Karl, Robin and Daniel delve into Exodus, Ch. 8, the plagues, the nature of good and evil, the nature of mercy and justice, and all the other large and intense questions, with a little midrashic humor thrown in. Listen here or subscribe on iTunes. The midrash that Daniel selected is below.
(Midrash Rabbah) Behold, I will smite all your borders with frogs (7:27)
The plagues which G‑d brought upon the Egyptians also had the effect of establishing peace amongst them. How was this? There was a dispute between the Ethiopians and the Egyptians; the latter said: “Our borders extend till here,” whilst the former claimed, “Our borders extend to here.” But when the frogs came the dispute was resolved, for the plague affected only Egyptian territory, and thus the Ethiopians knew what was not theirs.
(Rashi 7:29) and into you and into your people and into all your servants: They [the frogs] would go into their intestines and croak. — [from Tanna d’vei Eliyahu, Seder Eliyahu Rabbah, ch. 7]
(Rashi 8:2) and the frogs came up: Heb. וַתַּעַל הַצְפַרְדֵעַ, literally, and the frog came up. It was one frog, and they [the Egyptians] hit it, and it split into many swarms of frogs. This is its midrashic interpretation (Tanchuma, Va’era 14);
(Rashi 8:5) Boast [of your superiority] over me: Heb. הִתְפָּאֵר עָלַי, similar to “Shall the axe boast (הִיִתְפָּאֵר) over the one who hews with it” (Isa. 10:15). It praises itself, saying, “I am greater than you,” vanter in Old French. Similarly, הִתְפָּאֵר עָלַי, [Moses says to Pharaoh,] “you praise yourself by acting cleverly and asking a difficult thing and saying that I will be unable to do it.”
(Rashi 8:12) Say to Aaron: It was inappropriate for the dust to be smitten through Moses since it had protected him when he slew the Egyptian and had hidden him in the sand. [Therefore,] it was smitten through Aaron [instead]. — [from Tanchuma, Va’era 14, Exod. Rabbah 10:7]
(Rashi 8:13) and the lice were: The swarming, pedoiliee in Old French, the swarming of lice. [This accounts for the singular verb form.]
(Rashi 8:14) The magicians did so with their secret arts, to bring forth lice, but they could not: Because a demon has no power over an object smaller than a barley grain.
(Rashi 8:17) a mixture of noxious creatures: [which includes] all species of wild beasts, snakes, and scorpions in a mixture, and they were destroying among them [i.e., among the Egyptians].
(Rashi 8:18) in order that you know that I am the Lord in the midst of the earth: Although My Shechinah is in heaven, My decree is fulfilled in the lower worlds. — [from Onkelos]
(Rashi 8:19) And I will make a distinction: which will set apart My people from your people.
(Rashi 8:22) The act of sacrifice which we practise is a hateful thing to the Egyptians seeing that we sacrifice their god (sheep which were reverenced as gods in Egypt).
(Chassidic saying) Pharaoh said: “Sacrifice to the L‑rd your G‑d in the wilderness, but don’t go too far; pray for me” (8:24)
The animal soul of man, which embodies his selfish and material desires, knows that it is futile to try to dissuade a Jew from serving his Creator. So when a Jew wants to pray, it doesn’t try to stop him; instead, it seeks to transform his service into just another selfish endeavor. Go ahead, says the “Pharaoh” within, serve your G‑d. “But don’t go off too far. Pray for me as well . . .”
(Rashi 8:27) and He removed the mixture of noxious creatures: But they did not die as the frogs had died, for had they [the creatures] died, they [the Egyptians] would have derived benefit from the [animals’] hides. — [from Tanchuma, Va’era 14]